Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why don't the pieces fit? Connecting people to the right people.

So, we briefly detailed ways to "incent" participation last time. Getting people to participate is hard enough but what about getting the RIGHT people to participate?

Here is the challenge. Lots of things cause a community to fail or never really grow to begin with. Credibility is the key and correct content is your reputation.

A community that provides the WRONG answers to the questions posted will fizzle more quickly than can be imagined.

Harnessing the power of a true Learning 2.0 community requires not only getting bodies in the door, but it's getting the right people involved to answer the questions they should answer.

This just isn't easy to do.

I'll be brining a guest blogger in next time to explore ways to avoid this, but for now, lets get some conversation going.

So the challenge is this, how do I get the right people answering the questions my employees/students/community members are posting?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sell Selfish

Sorry all for the delay in this posting, it has been a hectic several days.

I wanted to give "Josh" a public thank you for being the first person to comment on the blog!

Incidentally, his comment transitioned the conversation perfectly into today's topic.

So our title is Sell Selfish. What does that mean?

The basic premise is thus: "People will do what benefits them" WIIFM! (whats in it for me?)

So to frame our discussion a bit more tightly, Sell Selfish will be my motto when discussing how to motivate a group of people to contribute as you wish them too with a particular focus on web based communities .

So how does this apply to Learning 2.0?

"Learning 2.0 will be connecting people who need to know with people who know on demand."

That is easier said than done.

The burning question now is what would it take to get someone who "knows" to expend effort relaying their knowledge to someone who "needs to know"?

The simple answer is make it benefit them!

Lets talk about how to make this happen.

$$$ MONEY $$$
Money is the universal extrinsic motivator, kind of like the "water" of motivators. Everyone could use a little more cash-in-hand. Paying those that know, to spend time & effort imparting their knowledge will work. No questions asked.

  • Universal - will motivate just about everyone
  • Tangible - easy to see the value
  • Sellable - easy to sell or advertise
  • Expensive - costs you money
  • Not scalable - as your community grows, so does the cost to incent the community
  • Offensive - some of your major contributors that aren't motivated by money could be turned off by the fact that you offer it.

Rewards/ Stuff / Toys / Trinkets / Deals / Points
Many people will contribute if they are rewarded with things rather than just cash. Clearly, this model works as we see time and again, internet banner adds saying; "Fill out a survey. Get 2 free Ring Tones"

What about answer a question, (accurately) and get a chance to win an iPhone?

  • Universal - Motivates many people
  • Tangible - As with pure money its an extrinsic reward
  • Cheap(er) - As opposed to money, the rewards you give away for participation can be just about anything. They could be iPods to coupons or points towards just about anything. Cambrian House is one company that motivates users with "points"
  • Cost - These rewards, while cheaper, still cost you money which will inevitably cut into the bottom line.
  • Offensive - as with money, people can be offended by what is offered in trying to garner their participation
  • Must be distributed - depending on what you offer, if its tangible, you have to ship it. Often times, this is an undesired challenge.

*** Reputation / "Rep"/ Street Cred / Kudos ***
Some people are intrinsically motivated. They do things just to be recognized for doing them. Reputation tracking encompasses the idea of a "flat" world where everyone is equal until proven not. Believe it or not, one way to get people to contribute what they know, is purely by recognizing that they know it!

  • ITS FREE! - this costs nothing and its still rather effective!
  • It scales - no matter how large our community gets, recognizing contributes costs the same.
  • Will not work on everyone - just that, some people just don't care if people "know they are cool"
Off the top of my head, those are the most frequently used "methods" to motivate people to participate. Not a new concept but a different take on something old, maybe like the Curves for learning communities? O.K, Maybe not that innovative.

As a note, I plan on exploring the concept of incenting and motivating community use and methods by which to do that further, BUT for those of you interested, it won't be on this blog. Keep looking though shortly there will be a forum where we can all talk about it!.

On the other hand, lets keep exploring "How We Learn" and some of the ideas behind that.

Next time: Why don't the pieces fit? Connecting people to people.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Communities: Eye on Learning

Due to the title, as write this I can't help but hear the theme music to The Simpson's: Eye on Springfield.

Clearly, that has nothing to do with our conversation today.

So my first official foray into the world of learning 2.0 will be with the concept of web based communities in mind.

Community will continue be an important tool in the years to come. Already, a countless amount of learning occurs in web communities each day. The technically savvy demographic, clearly the first to embrace the internet, has been using it to communicate and learn for years. So the question is, why hasn't everyone embraced it?

As a former software developer myself, I noticed that much of the time when I would 'troll' the developer forums for the answer regarding an often obscure question, I would post my question but rarely would I answer questions other users had posted.

I never thought much about it at the time, but now I ask myself why is that? Why didn't I answer questions that I already knew the answer to?

After analysis, I could really only come up with 2 reasons.
  • I lacked confidence in the answer
  • I didn't benefit by answering the question
If the "people with the answers" do not provide those answers, how can we hope to connect people who want to know with those that do know?

My theory is that people will only participate if they benefit from their participation. That may seem very selfish, and the truth of the matter is, it is!

Short of changing the focus of "the people" to the greater good, I suggest we merely find a way to capitalize on selfishness.

I recently finished reading a book about the power of crowdsourcing and the wisdom of crowds, (which you can preview here at www.wearesmarter.org), and while I enjoyed the book and the concepts therein, each of the businesses that capitalized on the model addressed the concern of "what's in it for me".

So the question is how do we make this work for the learning community? Is it something that can be developed into a product? These are some of the topics I will explore soon.

Next Time: Monetize, Incentivise, Sell Selfish!